How engaged employees strengthen your restaurant brand [Expert Corner]
In this Expert Corner, we hear from Miguel Miranda, a hospitality veteran and co-founder of One Degree Hospitality LLC. Ed Doherty and Miguel Miranda have put to work a collective 60 years of experience in the industry to help guide restaurateurs with employee engagement and team-centric leadership principles.
How do reducing turnover and increasing the success of an overall recruitment process help a restaurant's brand positioning?
Miranda: Imagine your operation inhabited by a team of happy, engaged “brand ambassadors,” who work efficiently together and believe in your brand’s promise. It is a company’s passionate dedication to that vision that will be the difference between the brand’s promise and reality. We believe that a company must never compromise its recruiting process if its brand is to deliver on its potential. Beyond resumes and references, focus on finding those people who have the natural ability and desire to fit the role of "brand ambassador." Make sure your new hires are coachable.
A company that wants to deliver on its brand’s promise must also focus on becoming an “employer of choice,” attracting the best people in the market. Remember, too, that it’s not necessarily about higher wages and benefits. Although we believe that an appropriate compensation package is necessary to take money out of the equation, it isn’t the primary factor in developing happy, efficient, low turnover teams. To become an employer of choice a company must be dedicated to creating and maintaining a culture that delivers a promise to its employees. A company that develops a values-based culture has a much better chance of reducing turnover and delivering on its brand promise.
Turnover tends to be an intangible, unmeasured financial indicator. How often do you see a profit and loss statement with “turnover” as a line item? Obviously, turnover negatively impacts the bottom line due to increased recruiting and training costs and increased waste due to inefficiency. The real impact on the restaurant’s success is how it destroys morale. The constant strain on both management and staff in high turnover restaurants erodes a brand’s ability to deliver on its promise.
Productivity is the result of a team that has a measure of stability, where relationships form and the team has identity. Although efficient teams can be a result of great training and low turnover, it is easier to develop an engaged team when they themselves are advocates of your brand. It is all interconnected.
Tell us three things that empower restaurant employees to be the best brand advocates?
Miranda: We believe in connection AND direction. You must do both. The relationship between you and your staff is crucial for building team loyalty and trust. To develop high performing teams you must have leadership capable of building a connection and giving clear, consistent direction. Empowerment is a major ingredient and its components are:
- Tell them WHY: Let them know why they are doing what they are doing. “WHY” is your brand’s promise. Disney tells the world, “We make dreams come true.” That brand promise translates into a mantra for their team. Besides the extraordinary training “cast members” (Disney’s name for employees) get, the Disney promise is very easy to understand and comes to life because their “WHY” is vivid and clear. It is the connection a company makes with its employees that creates loyal “team ambassadors.”
- Show them HOW: Constant, consistent direction connects an employee to their work. People need direction, and connection without direction and vice a versa will not result in employee engagement. Be candid with your people, giving them equal praise and corrective criticism.
- Let them know you care: Connection and direction, if used consistently, will create a culture of caring. True “servant-leadership” is the concept that the manager is there to serve its team, insuring that they have the tools they need to succeed. We advocate strong, caring, directional leadership.
"Productivity is the result of a team that has a measure of stability, where relationships form and the team has identity." Miguel Miranda, One Degree Hospitaity.
Is high turnover a necessary evil in the fast food and fast casual environments, or are there ways to sustain longer employment, or at a minimum, better candidates?
Miranda: Again, be the employer of choice. QSR shouldn’t accept the status quo of high turnover. If managers are trained to be “people-developers” and learn to nurture and lead their staffs, that cycle can be broken.
Give us an example of the theory and premise behind empowering people to make brands more sustainable.
Miranda: One Degree Hospitality uses proven methods to transform teams. It is our dedication to a management philosophy that not only respects people, but respects human nature as well. Dale Carnegie observed 75 years ago, in his famous tome How to Win Friends and Influence People, that humans will “only do what they really want to do.” Twenty-five years ago, Kenneth Blanchard’s One Minute Managerrevolutionized how people were managed worldwide by accepting the philosophy that “people do better work when they feel good about themselves.”
Today, extraordinary advances in neuroscience have confirmed what Carnegie and Blanchard observed. Beyond the common mission statement, the “WHY,” as defined by Simon Sinek, is the simple notion that the greatest leaders and organizations in the world think, act and communicate precisely the same way – and it’s the exact opposite of everyone else! It’s a very simple concept Sinek calls the “Golden Circle.” When a leader or organization defines “why” first, instead of “how” or “what,” people are inspired to action. That is why companies like Apple and Disney inspire such fierce brand loyalty.
“Why” makes people actually care about your company or idea because people don’t buy what you do – they buy why you do it. The goal is not to do business with people who want what you have; it’s to do business with people who believe what you believe.
Sinek goes on to explain that “Starting with Why” isn’t a psychological theory, but instead is actually based in the tenets of biology. The Golden Circle (three concentric circles, with “why” in the center, followed by “how” and then “what”), correlates perfectly with the three section of the human brain. Our “newest brain,” our neo-cortex, corresponds with the “what” level. It is responsible for all rational and analytical thought. It also controls language.
The next two levels, the limbic brains, control all of our feelings, like trust and loyalty. It also controls all our behaviors and decision-making, but has no capacity for language. When you start with “why” you are talking to that part of the brain that makes all the decisions. If your goal is customer and employee loyalty, it sounds like a “natural” way to succeed.
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Ed Doherty and Miguel Miranda are partners and co-founders of One Degree Hospitality, a business consulting firm dedicated to creating high-performing teams. One Degree Hospitality partners with its clients to improve the quality of their work-life and to create sustainable business models through employee engagement.
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